Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In Fee Simple by Gene Kimmet

In Fee Simple
Gene Kimmet
Stormline Press
Urbana, IL

Representative of the work published by Stormline Press, this 39 page collection by first time author Gene Kimmet shows the strong regionalism that this Press featured. While the poems are a mixed blessing, the sense of place all the same permeates through the work.

Stormline seems to have been most active in the 1980s and published a number of Midwestern poets, writers, and photographers. This is the first book by this Press that I have happened across. It’s a very decent find. The regional voice is strong and sure. You feel the land right there in front of you. Illinois. Heartland. America.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Healing Green by David Newall

The Healing Green
David Newall
Armaus Publishers
Luton, Bedfordshire, England
P. R. MacMillan
Cambridge, England
(no year stated)

This 34 page chapbook is quite the enigma. The author is unknown. The publisher is unknown. The printer might be P. R MacMillan, Cambridge (England). I do know that this collection does have 34 stated pages and that the poems were written in English and printed in English. Sorry if I seem a bit flippant but it feels like a ball of flummox holding this virtual unknown commodity.

These poems are largely about nature. Upon clearer inspection, these poems also have some typos that someone corrected in pencil. There is no owner name, The Press had an address of Luton, Bedfordshire, England which is the home of a college and it also states on the printer info page that the book was printed in England. SO - there is that.

But little else. The cover is green. The book is staple-bound. It's a legitimate chapbook. I am guessing that it was a student's early publishing effort as it has a dreadful rhyme scheme that bores me to tears. I am leaning toward SAVE A TREE for this one. I might have to pulp this copy myself - but I am almost intrigued to find out more about this book before being "rash". Anyone out there know anything about it?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Commenting on two Plan B Press chapbooks

Richard Erdmann
Plan B Press
Stay-at-Home Press

The Mutual Life
Relationships, Colonization and Other Accidents
A Manual of Reference
James Thomas Stevens
Plan B Press

I haven’t written before in this blog about any chapbooks published by Plan B Press since I am the co-founder and head of Plan B Press. Felt like a conflict of interest. However the thrust of my comments here have to do with the books published by one of our divisions : Stay At Home Press. Not that that matters terribly much except that I have a bit less to do with this division than our “running man” division of the Press.

The concept behind Stay–at-Home Press is the attempt to wed image with text in a more realizable way. And to do this in the “book” format, not relying on or hiding behind the non-conventions of the e-book. To produce something a person can hold : a book. This, of course, was only the most basic reason for developing this new division of the Press. One of the statements that our Press tries to adhere to came from El Lissitzky who in 1931 wrote: “The book must be the unified work of author and the designer. As long as this is not the case, splendid exteriors will constantly be produced for unimportant contents, and visa-versa.

Our first attempt was Richard Erdmann’s chapbook Without. This chapbook melded text with image and image with text on. It was more of an experiment than a finished project, in hindsight I say, and as often happens – the poet disappeared into this “day clothes”. It happens. What remains is the chapbook - what has been lost is the meaning or the attempted meaning of the work.

The project that SHOULD have been the first Stay-at-Home Press book was James Thomas Stevens’ 2006 chapbook The Mutual Life . Stevens took much of the language as well as the illustrations that exist in the chapbook and the recreated cover from the original 1901 Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York: Accidents, Emergencies, and Illnesses published BY The Mutual Life of New York. The chapbook itself was the second phase of the work; it was created in 2004 for a writers convention and then published by Plan B Press as the fullest expression of its potentiality (complete with use of same font headings, etc.) before landing in a more neutered state with his 2007 Salt Publishing full book entitled A Bridge Dead in the Water. (the version that exists in that book is devoid of illustrations and the font matches the rest of the book) Besides being the most true expression of the merging of image with text, it presented the most compelling argument for the creation of the Stay-at-Home Division to date. However, Without was not successful as the first effort.

There will surely be more to come from this division as manuscripts continue to come our way with stronger visual elements. At the same time, there are entire publishing firms that dwell only in the e-book universe which challenges the dimension and understanding of what “text” and “book” will mean in the 21st century.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Oranges From Palestine by Mike Maggio

Oranges From Palestine (and other poems)
Mike Maggio
Mardi Gras Press
Harvey, LA
(c) 1996 2nd printing

This 31 page chapbook is a beautiful love bouquet from a poet to a great love, as well as the Middle East that she came from. It's an wonderful gift.